2008 Biennial

Fritz Haeg

Animal Estates 1.0: New York, New York, 2008

“This project is called Animal Estates 1.0: New York City.  It’s the first edition of a new series of projects I’m doing around the county where I’m making homes for animals where people live: in cities, in suburbs, on private property, at institutions, things like that. For this project in New York, I’ve made homes for twelve animals that used to live where we’re standing right now, at the Whitney Museum. The most important one is the Beaver, so of course we have the beaver pond here. There’s the eagles’ nest which is up on the entry portico. There are homes for the wood duck, bobcat, salamander, turtle, mason bee, bats, flying squirrel and the opossum.  For each edition of the Animal Estates project, I look for local experts that I can work with that will somehow inform the project.

“So the real inspiration for this project came from the Mannahatta Project which is founded by Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist. I think the last ten years he’s been doing research on what the island of Manhattan looked like 400 years ago, before the European settlers arrived, and getting a very accurate picture of what the animals and the plants and the flora and the fauna and the landscape looked like. So I used that as my inspiration and decided for this version of the project to go back 400 years, find out what animals lived here, and then make homes for them to move back in.

“I’m thinking about this as a development of model homes, so that when people are on this street looking at these and reading the bronze plaques identifying these animals, they can get inspiration for the animal estates they could build on their own private properties. After the run of the exhibition on June 1st, the plan is for these model homes to go out into the area surrounding the city. That people will take these and put them on their private property and animals will move into them.”